Thursday, September 28, 2006

Pro-Kurdish Mayors on Trial in Turkey

Written by The Media Line Staff
Published Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Fifty-six Turkish mayors stood trial on Tuesday for trying to help keep a Kurdish television station broadcasting from Denmark.

The trial is being held in a criminal court in Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey's Kurdish-dominated southeast.

The mayors belong to the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party. They are being tried for sending a letter to the Danish prime minister in December 2005, asking him to keep Roj TV on the air.

Roj is a Turkish television channel based in Denmark and banned in Turkey.

If found guilty, the mayors could face up to 15 years in prison.

The mayors pleaded not guilty, defending the letter as free speech.

Ankara maintains that Roj is a mouthpiece of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a party that Turkey, the United States and the European Union (EU) designate a terrorist organization.

Officials from the television channel deny these allegations.

Turkey has asked Denmark to revoke the station's broadcasting license, but Copenhagen has refused to comply with the request, citing freedom of speech.

The trial could be a stumbling block in Turkey's accession to the EU.

The EU has been pressing Turkey to incorporate reforms and improve its human rights record, including granting more rights to Kurds in the country.

Copyright © 2006 The Media Line. All Rights Reserved.

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